As promised, each Thursday, we will now offer you a piece of educational, science, or research related information. The purpose of our #ThursdayThoughts post is to share with you fact-based content that can enlighten and assist you on your fertility journey. Enjoy our post! Helping to Create New Beginnings….
Ectopic Pregnancy? What Happens Next?
At Fertility Institute of Hawaii, if you have a home pregnancy test, we will order a series of blood tests that check the Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (βhCG) hormone, also known as the pregnancy hormone, and progesterone levels. These levels are followed closely within the first week of the positive home pregnancy test. The βhCG levels should approximately double every 48 hours in a normal, progressing pregnancy. If the βhCG levels do not increase appropriately, ectopic pregnancy may be a possibility. In addition to monitoring lab results, a transvaginal ultrasound may also be completed. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the uterus and 96% of the time this occurs within the fallopian tubes.1 Unfortunately, ectopic pregnancy is common and present in 19.7 per 1,000 pregnancies in North America.1
Some symptoms that are associated with an ectopic pregnancy are bleeding and pelvic pain. There is a risk for fallopian tube rupture if this diagnosis is not made in time. Therefore, following βhCG levels and ultrasound is very important if an ectopic pregnancy is suspected.
There are several risk factors that can cause an ectopic pregnancy. These include having a previous ectopic pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease, gonorrhea or chlamydia infections, and use of intrauterine devices for birth control.2 If an ectopic pregnancy occurs, it can be treated with the use of a methotrexate injection or surgical management. The βhCG levels will also be monitored until they reach zero.
Tenore, J. Ectopic pregnancy. Am Fam Physician. 2000 Feb 15; 61(4): 1080-1088. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/ectopic-pregnancy-epidemiology-risk-factors-and-anatomic-sites/print